Truth and DARE 

Truth and DARE 
Posted by FoM on June 06, 2000 at 07:46:35 PT
By Grace E. Jang
Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Cerritos Middle School students learn plenty through drug education program.   Six months ago, drugs and alcohol were the last things on 12-year-old Ashley Seber's mind, and "just say no" was just a cliche of little significance. 
  But now, after receiving her Drug Abuse Resistance Education certificate of completion, the Thousand Oaks sixth-grader knows those three words can pack a lot of punch.  Ashley and about 280 of her peers at Los Cerritos Middle School participated in their last DARE class Monday. About 100 parents also attended, watching the students present skits and read essays about what they learned from the 17-week program. The program, funded by the city of Thousand Oaks, tries to reach sixth- and eighth-graders throughout the Conejo Valley Unified School District on drug- and alcohol-related issues.   Ashley said the program has demystified a topic she didn't know much about.   "I never really thought about drugs and stuff," Ashley said. "I just knew they were bad. Now I know that, even if I'm scared, I can always say no."   The students, clad in blue and red DARE T-shirts, say they have found a friend in their teacher, Deputy Mike Baker of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. They respond enthusiastically when he asks if "you silly freaks" are having fun. Most importantly, Baker has armed the students with various ways to say no, such as changing the subject or walking away.   Or there's the snappy response, "Grass is for mowing, not for smoking," a weapon that Brittany Goldfield, 12, has incorporated into her defense arsenal should someone try to pressure her to smoke marijuana.   Although the parents and teachers who attended the ceremony generally lauded the program, DARE has not been well-received by some. The program, created in 1983 by Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, has been criticized over the past few years for being costly and ineffective. Despite anti-drug education programs, more than half of the country's eighth-graders have tried alcohol and nearly a quarter of them have tried marijuana, according to a 1997 National Institute on Drug Abuse study. Some cities, such as Oakland, have stopped funding the DARE program entirely.   While Thousand Oaks spends about $210,000 a year for the program, it's a worthwhile expense, said Cmdr. Keith Parks, acting police chief for the Thousand Oaks Police Department. Money for supplies and commemorative items is either donated or raised in fund-raising events or auctions.   "We're building a real foundation with the kids and their families," Parks said. "The program gets parents thinking about drugs and alcohol as their kids enter the period where they face stronger temptation. DARE starts communication and gets the ball rolling. It's a wise investment."   Baker admits that DARE does not claim to reach every student and emphasizes that the family plays an important role in drug abuse prevention"You may read in the newspapers that the DARE program doesn't work," he said, addressing the parents Monday. "DARE will work if you make it work. If you don't talk to your kids about drugs, they'll get the information somewhere else."   He compared the program to a man trying to rescue hundreds of starfish washed ashore.   "A couple watching the man saw that there were thousands of starfish, and so they asked him how he could possibly make a difference to all of them," Baker said. "At that point, the man took one starfish and threw it back in the sea, and said, 'Made a difference for that one.'   "DARE doesn't help everyone, but it will help your kid," Baker said. "Once they're in the water, you need to help them."   The program has been effective far beyond drug abuse resistance, said Thousand Oaks resident Anne Garrity, who said DARE has given her 11-year-old son, Ross, unprecedented confidence to stand up to peer pressure.   "He's learned about resolving conflicts and making appropriate choices about things involving more than just drugs," Garrity said. "Since the program began, I've seen him mature from this."   Ross doesn't deny it. When asked if he'll take the lessons he's learned from DARE into the seventh grade, he smiled, nodding quickly and emphatically.   "Yeah," he said. "Definitely." Puublished: Tuesday, June 6, 2000 Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times CannabisNews DARE Related News Articles:
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on June 07, 2000 at 04:19:25 PT
 This is the new hitler youth.Instead of Jews,,we have drugs,and drug users.....dddd
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